Best Fairway Woods 2020: We bring you the best fairway woods of 2020 - tried and tested as part of our biggest ever golf club equipment guide, Top Gear.
In our biggest ever equipment test we reviewed hundreds of golf clubs, and when it came to selecting the best fairway woods of 2020, these are the best on the market right now.
Lofts: 3+ (13.5°) / 3 (15°) / 5 (18°) / HW (20°) / 7 (21°) / 9 (23°) / 11 (25°)
Stock shafts: UST Helium Black 40g/50g / Project X Evenflow Riptide 60g / Aldila Rogue White 130 MSI
Adjustable hosel: No
Callaway Mavrik fairway wood review:
It took lots of number crunching to find out if Callaway’s Mavrik driver actually controlled side and backspin differences better as Callaway promise (which makes the driver more accurate even though MOI drops), so we naturally wanted to see if the Mavrik fairway performed in the same way.
And, to our amazement, it did. By a single yard Mavrik was second best at protecting carry (12 yards to the Cobra SZ Tour’s 11) and it was just 172rpm (which is nothing) from being among our top-three fairways for side and backspin drop-off, too.
What does it mean to you? Let’s just say Mavrik is forgiving. We love its compact footprint and head shape, but less confident fairway players will find the larger, high-launching Mavrik Max an even more forgiving option.
Lofts: Rocket 3 (14°) / 3 (15°) / 5 (18°) / 7 (21°) / 9 (24°)
Stock shafts: Fujijura Ventus Blue 6 FW
Adjustable hosel: No
TaylorMade SIM Max fairway wood review:
We’ve talked a lot over the last few years about low-spin drivers looking fast and long when getting fitted on a launch monitor, and for 2020 the phenomenon is true for fairway woods, too. Low-spinning, less forgiving models dominate the top of our test data charts.
We say that as a word of warning, so you’re not suckered in by numbers when getting fitted for fairways. There was only one fairway among our longest five models of the year that wasn’t either a low spin or lightweight model – TaylorMade’s SIM Max. And thanks to seeing just 15 yards of carry drop-off between on and off-centre hits, the Max also turned in a top-three performance for forgiveness, too.
That means this cracking looking fairway gets a “Best of 2020” stamp of approval from us. If you struggle launching a fairway wood from the deck, or predominantly hit shots down the right side of the course, have a look at the higher-lofted, draw-biased SIM Max D instead.
Lofts: 3 (14.5°) / 5 (17.5°) / 7 (20.5°) / 9 (23.5°)
Stock shafts: Ping Alta CB 65 Red
Adjustable hosel: Yes, loft can be increased or decreased by up to 1.5°
Ping G410 fairway wood review:
Don’t be put off by Ping’s insistence that a 3-wood needs 14.5° of loft. Admittedly the lack of loft, and Ping’s squashed fairway wood head design might not inspire confidence for everyone, but thanks to some very clever tech they really do work, and they’re just as capable of launching shots from the turf as slightly higher lofted models.
Our launch data has the G410 among the higher-launching fairways, which ties in perfectly with how our test pro felt shots launched high and fast, making them an excellent choice for flying hazards and getting the ball to stop.
Like others, Ping’s G410 fairway wood line is extensive, there are plenty of lofts to choose from, plus there’s a lower-spinning LST model as well as a lighter, more draw biased SFT design, which means there’s a solution for everyone.
Lofts: 13° / 15° / 18° / 21°
Stock shafts: Custom fit only
Adjustable hosel: Yes, loft can be increased or decreased by up to 2°
PXG 0341 X Gen 2 fairway wood review:
Fairways, like wedges, putters and hybrids, are really personal pieces of kit, and our choice between leading models often comes down to how particular designs best suit how we attack the ball. So while the PXG wasn’t our longest or fastest fairway, we can’t hide how our test pro, just like last year, loved the 0341’s compact but friendly head. The PXG was good at protecting carry between on and off-centre hits;
16g of weight can be positioned (by PXG) forwards in the head to lower spin or out towards the extremities to improve stability and forgiveness; and to make sure you get your perfect set-up it’s also possible to dial in shot bias, too. At address the 0341 X looks really clean with two very simple ridges focusing attention on the impact zone, making it the least fussy wood you’ll see this year. If you baulk at the price, though, it’s not for you.
Best Fairway Wood 2020 - How they compare in data
Fairway Woods 2020 - Best of the rest
2019 was a breakthrough year for titanium fairways. Tiger, Rory, Jon Rahm and DJ all won with a titanium M5 in their bags, which shows how a lightweight titanium chassis and a carbon crown really are the best ways to make fairways in a perfect world.
The problem is that they come with hefty price tags, as they’re made from the same expensive materials as a driver. Our pro felt the TaylorMade SIM had a fraction flatter lie than SIM Max, which helps reduce left bias for faster swing speeds.
The SIM also launched more than a degree lower and peaked shots out a couple of yards less than the SIM Max, which says everything you need to know about how it launches the ball into the air, and who it will perform best for – reasonably strong and powerful golfers.
We rarely recommend low lofted fairways here at TG, as most club golfers find they’re difficult to launch successfully. But, on this occasion, we couldn’t turn a blind eye to the numbers. Don’t get us wrong, these are not for everyone. But we reckon for golfers with well above average swing speeds and players who hit a lot of fairway woods from the tee, Big Tour could be a solid option.
Thanks to generating less backspin than any other fairway, the Big Tour posted our second longest carry (249 yards). For all that speed and distance our data has the Big Tour giving up seven yards of carry drop-off to Cobra’s standard Speedzone fairway.
If our test was based on data alone, the Sub Zero would be our hands-down winner, as by two yards it was our longest fairway of 2020 (251 yards). But data doesn’t tell the whole story. When we look at drop-offs for off-centre hits, the Sub Zero gave up 27 yards to the standard Mavrik’s 12 – a 125% increase. For the right players, Sub Zero drivers and fairways can unlock extra ball speed and carry. Just remember, they’re less forgiving.
The Max has a bigger, wider head with a weight port at the back and heel, so you can create either a maximum forgiveness or draw fairway. Our data has it launching over a degree higher, while adding an extra 300rpm of backspin, and peaking shots out four yards higher than the standard Mavrik, which at “normal” swing speeds will keep shots in the air longer.
After seeing the Honma T//World XP-1 driver perform so well it’s not a big surprise to see the fairway right up there as one of only four to break the 151mph ball speed barrier in our test. But, before we get too carried away, it’s worth remembering at least some of that speed comes from the very lightweight shaft.
All in, the Honma is a really good looking fairway; there’s no alignment aid, and the head does a brilliant job of disguising the hidden draw bias tech inside. Moderate swing speed players will feel a real difference in how the shaft loads and releases energy and “pops” shots up.
The TS3 might be 18 months old, but we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t highlight its low spin numbers in our test. The TS3 (using a stock shaft) was one of only two fairways to break the 152mph ball speed barrier.
How forgiving is each Fairway Wood on mishits?
Our drop off data shows the difference between our test pro's fastest and slowest Ball Speeds. Highest to lowest Back and Side spin rates and longest to shortest Carry Distances. Giving essentially a guide to forgiveness.